Agya Insights: Edition 106
Metaverse @ Milken
We were at the Milken Conference (Milken) this past week in Los Angeles, in what was an incredible gathering of leaders in finance, technology and economics.
Keen on reviewing the sentiment around Web 3.0 and the metaverse, we have curated our observations from a few standout panels and keynotes in this newsletter that touched on this new wave of the internet.
As always, let us know if you have any questions, and stay tuned for more updates on the fund this summer.
On behalf of the team,
💡 Discussed at Milken
Per Peter Levin of Griffin Gaming Partners, when it comes to the metaverse, we are not even in the first pitch of the first inning of a nine innings game. While gaming continues to lead the way with enhanced social interactions in virtual environments, the pervasiveness of metaverse in our daily lives might be an ‘overused’ construct.
Agya’s take: It is true that these are early days for some aspects of the metaverse. Yet with the strong influx of capital and talent, we are witnessing progress at a fast pace - and as an early stage VC, these are exactly the signals that excite us. Good engineering and product talent are moving from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0 and for the most part this migration is uni-directional.
Hedge fund investor Cathie Wood invoked Hernando de Soto who famously claimed that well defined property rights attract capital, unlock value and eventually become a key determinant for economic prosperity.
Per Wood, the ability to look into virtual networks and establish identity allows us to view property rights through a new paradigm: by any measure, virtual avatars and digital ownership of assets are better defined (#NFT), verifiable on chain, and going by de Soto, will eventually become tools to unlock pathways for growth.
Agya’s take: The implications for this can be far ranging, especially in developing economies: when digital property rights represent true value, and proceed to supersede clunky and often non-existent property rights IRL, it holds the promise of lending a voice to a chunk of humanity.
Alexis Ohanian of Seven Seven Six used the analogy of paper to describe how human ingenuity is perhaps the only limiting factor behind the widespread efficacy of the metaverse.
Back in Egypt, where papyrus was first manufactured c. 3,000 years ago, it was implausible for Egyptians to anticipate all the use cases of paper in that moment in time.
Would Egyptians know that one day paper would be used to trade cards? No.
Or that one’s home ownership deed would be certified on paper? No
Or how some would showcase proof of their life insurance on paper? No
Yet human ingenuity kicked in, and as society, we kept imbuing value to paper, which transitioned from a mere papyrus scroll to something with more meaning and transactional value.
The metaverse is poised to follow the same trajectory, except in a sharper and compressed timeline. The fundamental tenets of decentralized ownership, NFTs and an immersive internet provide us a strong foundation to now ascribing greater meaning to the metaverse.
Agya’s take: In looking at human ingenuity, it is worth recalling that the App Store did not exist until July 10, 2008 and today hosts close to 2.2 million apps. In 2018, when the App Store turned 10, Apple aptly called it a ‘cultural, social and economic phenomenon that changed how people work, play, meet, travel and so much more.’
The metaverse is one App Store (and some computing power) away from going mainstream - where that platform comes from, and if it belongs to Meta’s Horizon, Apple’s impending RealityOS, or someone else - will be defining in how economics are split between creators and networks. Yet, this very well might be the inflection point in our embrace of the metaverse, over the next few years.
📚 What We’re Reading
On Humor: “A hint of levity has the power to transform an interaction, forge a connection and signal that you see the other person. By understanding the science, mechanics and applications of humor, we can shift the way we look at the world - and the way it looks back at us.”
Humor, Seriously summarizes Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas’ years of practice, research and teaching of humor to illustrate its efficacy in business and life.
💸 Select Financings in the Built World
Sense | sense.com
$105 mn Series C
Real-time home energy monitoring hardware & software
TheGuarantors | theguarantors.com
$50 mn Series C
Security deposit alternative and lease guarantees for cash-strapped renters
Sealed | sealed.com
$45.5 mn Series B
Smart home retrofits and turnkey project management for weatherization and electrification projects
Jobox | jobox.ai
$42 mn Series B
Marketplace infrastructure for the home services industry
Groups360 | groups360.com
$35 mn Growth
Platform for booking travel for groups
Live Bash | livebash.com
$21 mn Seed
Performance venues and software that converts live performances into NFTs for fans to buy
Wheelhouse | usewheelhouse.com
$16 mn round
Revenue management platform for the short-term rental industry
Radius | radiusagent.com
$13 mn Series A
Virtual real estate brokerage with a referral marketplace and social community
Branch | branchfurniture.com
$10 mn Series A
Ergonomic solutions for the future of work
For the complete list of real estate tech and construction tech investment announcements from April 14th - May 11th, click here!